Carney, Thomas, second governor of the State of Kansas, was born in Delaware county, Ohio, Aug. 20, 1824. His father, James Carney, died in 1828, leaving a widow and four small sons. Thomas remained with his mother until he was nineteen years of age, and frequently hauled the products of their little farm with an ox team to Newark, 36 miles distant. When he was nineteen he left home with about $3.50 in his pocket and went to an uncle, Elijah Carney, at Berkshire, Ohio, where he stayed for several months, working for his board mornings, evenings and Saturdays while he attended school. In the fall of 1844 he found employment with a retail dry-goods concern at Columbus, receiving $50 a month and board the first year and $100 a month and board the second year. He then took a position with a wholesale dry-goods house in Cincinnati, into which he was admitted as a partner, the firm of Carney, Swift & Co. becoming one of the best known dry-goods houses in the country. After some twelve years in Cincinnati his health became impaired, and in 1857 he visited the West, partly for his health and partly in search of a new location. The following spring, in partnership with Thomas C. Stevens, he opened the first wholesale house in Leavenworth, Kan. Mr. Stevens retired in 1866, when the firm took the name of Carney, Fenlon & Co., which in 1868 established the house of E. Fenlon & Co. in St. Louis, Mo. Several changes ensued and finally Mr. Carney became the sole proprietor of the business. He also founded the wholesale shoe house of Carney, Storer & Co., later Thomas Carney & Co. This business was disposed of by Mr. Carney in 1875.
Upon locating in Kansas Mr. Carney took an active interest in public affairs. In 1861 he was elected to the second state legislature, and while in that body served upon some of the most important committees. His record as a member of the legislature commended him to the Republican party for governor, and he was nominated for that office by a convention at Topeka on Sept. 17, 1862. At the election on the 4th of the following November he was elected over W. R. Wagstaff by a majority of 4,627 votes, and on Jan. 12, 1863, was inducted into the office. Historians have hardly done justice to the unselfish patriotism displayed by Gov. Carney during his term of two years. By personally indorsing the bonds of the state he established the credit of Kansas upon a firmer basis than it had ever been before, and it was largely due to his untiring efforts that the educational and charitable institutions of the state were established on a firm foundation. At the close of his term as governor he resumed his business operation, which he laid aside the day he was inaugurated in order to give his entire attention to the duties of his official position. In 1865 and 1866 he was mayor of the city of Leavenworth; was one of the founders of the First National Bank of that city, and was for several years a member of the board of directors; and he was also one of the directors of the Kansas City, Lawrence & Fort Gibson railroad. In addition to his mercantile, banking and railroad interests in Kansas, he was associated with mining operations in the Gunnison country. While visiting his mines there he wrote several letters for the Leavenworth papers, which were widely read and enjoyed by his numerous friends in Kansas. In 1875 he practically retired from business.
On Nov. 13, 1861, at Kenton, Ohio, Gov. Carney was united in marriage with Miss Rebecca Ann Cannady, who was born at Kenton on Oct. 9, 1827. She was a woman of high Christian character, noted far and wide for her interest in charitable work. She died at Leavenworth on Sept. 25, 1894. Gov. Carney's death occurred on July 28, 1888, and was due to apoplexy. At the time of his election to the office of governor he was a wealthy man, but in later years financial reverses camedue, it is said, to the unworthy schemes of designing politiciansand he died comparatively poor.Pages 289-290 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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